What are Elements?
In many schools, classes like art and music are called “specials” because they are taught by educational specialists—teachers who have specific training in these fields. The classes are typically treated separately from math, science, social studies, and language arts classes and are often seen as having lesser value to a child’s long-term education than traditional academics. When there are school budget cuts, and because of an ever-increasing focus on test scores, classes in the arts are commonly the first to be minimized or completely eliminated.
This is not the case at Baden Academy. In fact, the arts are a focus of our charter.
For us, music, art, theater, and movement aren’t just extras added on to classes—they actually provide the foundation for our students’ education. For this reason, we refer to these weekly classes not as “specials” but as Elements, a word that comes from the Latin elementum, meaning “a basic principle” or “an essential part.”
Why choose to focus on the arts? Countless organizations have conducted research on arts education in order to understand best policies and practices, and they find—over and over again—that the arts make a significant difference in students’ lives in three primary ways:
- Many people assume the knowledge and skills gained in and through the arts are unrelated to the knowledge and skills gained in core academics. Yet research has shown that a well-developed arts curriculum provides essential and transferrable skills and helps students develop a mindset that allows them to engage better in other subject areas.
- Exploring the arts fosters self-awareness and self-expression, encourages vital connections and collaborations with peers and mentors, and helps young people understand and engage in the world around them in creative, meaningful ways. For these reasons, the arts are unique tools educators can use to help students develop personal confidence, social/emotional skills, and empathy.
- Studying the arts purely for their own sake has incredible benefits for young people. Engaging in visual art, music, theater, and movement and coming to understand and appreciate the skills and processes involved in creating and performing holds real value, even if the student does not ultimately seek formal training. This is because the arts challenge students to think in new ways, provide positive shared experiences, and allow students to become more culturally literate.
It's very important to note that all these benefits from an arts education—academic growth, social/emotional development, and cultural literacy—prove to be especially valuable for students in communities that are traditionally underserved and for at-risk students. But these are precisely the students who are least likely to have access to high-quality arts programming.
Baden Academy was designed to address this very point. We built our school on the philosophy that an education rich in the arts will engage more students, provide them with broader and deeper skills, and allow them to reach a greater potential than a school model limited by more traditional curricula.
In addition to strong programming in visual arts, music, and theater, the Elements at Baden Academy include a physical education program that goes far beyond minimum state requirements, as well as a unique World Language program that introduces our students to various cultures and provides seven years of weekly Spanish instruction beginning in Kindergarten. Please read through each of the tabs in this section to learn more about the Elements at Baden Academy.